Scalped: Dave & Tim show drew some 'cockroaches'

So you wanted tickets to the sold-out Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds show on Saturday August 20 at the nTelos Pavilion? You could still get them even a day before the concert, but you might have paid a pretty penny more than the $50 per ticket most concertgoers paid. On Craigslist, for instance, one website–– had a variety of seats available ranging from the low $400s up to nearly $800. One ebay listing brought in $1,500 for two VIP tickets– more than twice their $300 apiece face value.

According to Pavilion GM Kirby Hutto, scalping– when tickets are sold by a third party, most often for a profit– is an increasing problem at the Pavilion, thanks in part to the ever-higher-profile nature of the acts coming to Charlottesville.

"The whole scalping world has just exploded over the last few years," says Hutto, who notes that unlike D.C., Virginia has no laws prohibiting the resale of tickets, no matter how high the profit margin. That leaves Virginia venues without much recourse, says Hutto, noting that if a scalper mentions the actual seat number in an online ad, the Pavilion may cancel the ticket and then resell it. Most scalpers, however, are craftier than that and list only the section or row of the tickets they're listing, making it nearly impossible to determine which tickets are being sold fraudulently.

Even if you have hundreds of dollars to spend, buying a ticket from a third-party seller is risky business.

"A lot of people are getting ripped off completely," Hutto explains, noting that certain particularly unscrupulous scalpers make counterfeit tickets, which will be worthless when the ticketholder shows up on concert night.

"It becomes a customer service issue because the guy who took their money is long gone," Hutto says, describing understandably upset patrons who may have traveled long distance and paid big bucks only to be turned away at the gate.

"It's a pain in our existence, both to fight these scalpers and to deal with the aftermath of the ones that are outright thieves."

Such unscrupulous scalping tactics seem even more egregious in the case of the Dave and Tim show, given that it was a charity event, with ticketholders asked to visit to select the charity they'd like to receive the full original value of their ticket plus fees. Fortunately, says Hutto, even those people who purchased scalped tickets are able to donate the face value of the ticket– assuming the scalper hasn't already chosen the charity– and that the ticket is a real one.

The Pavilion boss has simple advice for making sure your tickets will actually gain you entrance.

"I would never give anyone cash for the ticket until I've seen the ticket," says Hutto, reminding concertgoers that all Pavilion tickets are printed on nTelos Wireless Pavilion ticket stock and feature an image of the Pavilion in the background and a barcode.

"I've seen ads where it says 'two lawn tickets, two great seats,' and at that point you don't know what you're getting," says Hutto. "An event like this brings out some of the cockroaches who see an opportunity to make easy money. If people aren't savvy, they can get ripped off."

If it looked like scalpers were getting their comeuppance at presstime, with bidding on some ebay listings holding steady right at the ticket's face value, that changed hours before the show. A pair of upper orchestra seats offered by Kansas-based "getmetickets" pulled in $430– nearly triple face value. And a single lawn ticket (with Water Street garage parking pass thrown in) sold for $215, more than four times its $50 face value.

–Updated for print publication Monday, August 22 at 5:10pm


What a shame. Someone told me once Coran Capshaw sold Music Today this practice took off. Is that true ?

No. Scalping concert tickets has been a practice as long as concerts have been selling out.

why they didn't make these will call only tickets is beyond me? seriously, it's an all charity event, make it will call only and avoid this problem.

what's the big deal? the show is sold out, so the charities are still getting their money. the article even says you can still make the donation even if the tickets are bought from a third-party. yeah, scalping sucks, but it's legal in VA. so until the change the laws, it's gonna happen.

personally, i don't go to many shows anymore b/c the artists and venues themselves are charging such ridiculous prices for tickets. if you actually want to sit close enough to see the band you'll shell out a couple hundred bucks for a single ticket. sure, you can buy cheap seats, but then you just end up watching the band on a giant screen behind the stage. at that point, you may as well just buy a concert DVD and watch it at home. the beer would be cheaper that way too.

what's the difference betweeen a scalper and an entrepreneur?

It is hilarious how people like a free market until they can't get a low price on the concert ticket they wanted. Then they cry for government to save them.

@confused easily- i assume you love paying high prices for gas then? correct? you get excited about free market when gas is $4.00 a gallon?

i just want to pay the same price as they originally sold, face plus fees.

maybe they should have auctioned off all the tickets on ebay with the face price as the starting price and sell a hundred a day until they are all gone. That way the charities would have gotten more and the scalpers less.

"confused easily"- you are kidding, of course.............not sure anyone is crying for the government to "help".

Craig's list- call and make an offer- can't hurt!

"davefan"- I like the "will call" idea, especially for a limited attendance event like this

DaveFan: of course you want the same price as everyone else who bought tickets directly from the venue. So do 20,000 other people. Which is why it is good to allowing reselling so that you can still go to the event even though you aren't a member of the fan club (they got early ticket access) or one of the fans who logged in early enough to buy tickets (they sold out in a few minutes). I would rather pay more for a ticket than have no chance at all to see a show.

To HarryD: Who is asking for government intervention? Kirby Hutto is. See his comment about how DC has anti-scalping laws but VA does not, and so the venue has little recourse to stop scalpers.

why would venues want to stop scalpers? the venue gets its money whether it's coming from a fan or a scalper. sure, they say they fell bad for the fans who have to pay through the nose for scalped tickets. but then once you're inside they charge you $8 for a cup of warm bud light??? yeah, they really care about the fans.

I freaking hate scalpers. They take all the good tickets and then sell them for such a high mark up. Ok, I have two lawn tickets selling for 400 each.

"confused easily"- understood, well maybe I misunderstood- perhaps I am confused easily.....thanks for the clarification.

"IPEEYOUPOO"- nice handle! I am always curious as to whether the scalpers end up holding many of the tix they are trying to scalp.....

What has not been widely publicized is that, while you may be able to choose to which charity the value of the ticket goes, you may not itemize that amount on your tax return. Ordinarily in cases like these, you can itemize the amount of your donation to the extent that it exceeds the value of the ticket. Not this time - no part of your ticket purchase is deductible because you bought the ticket from a for-profit corporation. That corporation collects the money and funnels it to the not-for-profit, so IT (and probably Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds and whoever else normally gets a piece of the ticket revenue pie) gets the charitable deduction for tax purposes.

Nice, huh?

"Annoyed fan"- I am not sure that many purchasers cared or would have deducted the amount anyway.....they just don't look at a ticket as donation to a charity.

Hey, here's a way to make it happen as a real charitable item, not some phoney baloney marketing "charitable cause"- actually hold an auction and find out what these folks are really willing to donate to charity!

Free enterprise, don't cha just love it.?

@annoyed fan, the motivation of charitable giving is not supposed to be selfish. No doubt more was given to charity as a result of this concert that would have been otherwise, and itemized deductions are only allowed up to a threshold. So your complaints ring hollow.

Yeah, I got ripped off for $80 in Atlanta a few years back when DM and the Allman Brothers played. Let me tell you, the ticket looked perfect - first rate color printing on heavy card stock with a barcode and all. Somebody in the ticket production phase has to be selling the blanks or reproducing multiples of the genuine tickets. I knew I was out of luck when the seller started walking away the street everyone was using to get to Piedmont Park as soon as I handed hime the money but I continued on and got turned away at the gate. I just hope the $80 helped the brother a little further along the road to crack addiction.

"Virginia has no laws prohibiting the resale of tickets, no matter how high the profit margin...if a scalper mentions the actual seat number in an online ad, the Pavilion may cancel the ticket and then resell it...making it nearly impossible to determine which tickets are being sold fraudulently."

I don't understand. If it's not illegal, what's fraudulent about it? How can the venue cancel the tickets and re-sell them to someone else?

Meanwhile, do be sure and hire someone who knows what s/he is doing when tax time rolls around, darling. Clearly you are not sufficiently informed to do your own. There is only a threshold of itemization allowed on a per year basis - overages are rolled over to subsequent years until they are fully utilized.

It is never about the giving. It is always about the money. In this case, the charities got the money, and the corporations got the tax write-offs, part of which should have gone to the ticket buyers were all things done in a fair manner. For example, that is how the Free Clinic does it when they have fund raisers of a similar nature.

No worries at the end of the day because the show was AMAZING.